Continuing my series on the benefits of writing fan-fiction, today I have my first guest. H.A. Titus is the author of Forged Steel, a short story contributor in such anthologies as Avenir Eclectia, Different Dragons II, and Quickfic Anthology 2. She’s also a contributor to the New Authors Fellowship and an online friend I’ve known for a long time. Today, she shares with us some of the lessons she’s learned while writing fan-fiction.
Today I’m kicking off a series of blog posts about the benefit of writing fanfiction. I have some amazing guest bloggers coming over the next month to share their experiences and thoughts on the matter. But before they do, I wanted to share with you my fanfiction journey.
I’ve been a published author for nearly ten years. My first novel was published in 2011, kicking off a four book series that I would complete in 2017. When the final book dropped in December of that year, I didn’t realize how much of an emotional drain it would be on me. Those books, that world…that character…had been a part of my life for more than just the eight years it took to publish the books, but an additional three years before that as I wrote and polished that first one. If you invest in anything for over a decade, you will invest in it emotionally.
I’m sure I’m not the only one to ponder this question, and I’m certain other blog posts have been written on the subject. To be fair, I haven’t seen any of them. I wanted to flesh this idea out on my own.
I saw a meme the other day. Something about Santa using Floo Powder as an explanation on how he goes down the chimney. That started me on a line of thinking about Santa being a wizard from the wizarding world of the Harry Potter universe. So now I present my evidence.
Episode 1 – Reconciling the Maps
It has been my opinion that the creators of Breath of the Wild didn’t just throw in certain Easter Eggs to other games on the map, but that they actually tried to reconcile all the previous world building into one comprehensive map. It only makes sense, now that the game developers have said Breath of the Wild is the inevitable outcome of all three timelines. Allowing for ruins is a great way to do this and there are some obvious locations for us to find: such as Lon Lon Ranch and Arbiter’s Grounds.
But I think there’s more.
Before I go further, we need to fix a problem. This first post on this series is simply to reconcile the maps. As we do this we’ll need to exercise some creative freedom, as I’m sure the developers did the same. Nothing will be perfect, but there’s enough evidence to show that the developers made an effort, if imperfect. For now, we’re just going to stick with the major console games: specifically Ocarina of Time, Twilight Princess, Skyward Sword, Wind Waker, and Breath of the Wild. Later, I’ll bring in some of the 2D maps later.
**A MOSTLY SPOILER FREE REVIEW**
I sat at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, watching the credits scroll by and waiting for the bonus scenes. I glanced at my friend and he had the same puzzled expression that I did. He asked, “What did you think?” I replied, “I’m going to have to process this.”
And process it I have. My friend and I discussed our mixed feelings about the movie all the way to our homes. I realized that something was really bothering me about the movie and I made two crucial thoughts on that ride.
First, I had the distinct impression that the producers/writers/director had surveyed all of the most popular Marvel movies to date, cataloged all the most successful scenes, and developed a formula for what they thought would be the perfect Marvel movie. Then they proceeded to make GotGv2 using that formula.
Second, with the issue of escalation an all too real problem in Hollywood, especially with on-going franchises, I had a sneaking suspicion that I just watched Marvel “jump the shark.”
If you’re not familiar with that term, let me explain. It comes from a 1977 episode of Happy Days, where Fonzie proves his bravery by water skiing and ramps over a shark…all while wearing his trademark leather jacket. The term has come to refer to an instance in any TV show or recurring franchise when the show presents something utterly absurd for the sake of novelty and ratings. It’s what ultimately happens through escalation, where there’s constant pressure to “raise the stakes” in story telling. And the writers are beginning to run out of ideas.
Speaking of pressure to raise the stakes, that’s also typical of any sequel. Producers feel pressured to top the first one, bring back all of the audience’s favorite gags, but also try to force in a better sense of artistry than they did before. Often sequels crash and burn because of it. This movie could have just been a typical sequel.
So did Guardians of the Galaxy 2 jump the shark? Let me give you some of my observations:
- Too many layers. Every character has some kind of emotional conflict/back story and subtext that they are trying to resolve. EVERY. CHARACTER. It was just too much to keep up with. Which leads into the next point…
- None of those layers were executed well. Sure, if they’d stuck to one or two there would have been screen time enough for proper development. But this movie has seven or eight. Let that sink in a moment. The audience is expected to emotionally connect on the subtext of seven or eight character journeys.
- The formula. Remember I mentioned it felt formulaic? That’s because it did. Go cherry pick the best bits of your favorite Marvel movies and there’s probably an equivalent somewhere in this one.
- While we’re at it, let me repeat my other previously mentioned thoughts: pressure to raise the stakes and typical sequel problems.
- Weak overall plot. The whole adventure felt very forced. From the absurd opening antagonists that wouldn’t go away for the whole movie, to the primary antagonist that felt like he just showed up and said, “Hey! Let me be the bad guy!” All the different character layers, escalated stakes, forced antagonists, and horrid excuse for an inciting incident, made the plot disjointed and confusing.
- Baby Groot. I think the producers knew about everything I’ve already said. They knew the script had major problems. So they tried to disguise it with Baby Groot. Because who could hate a movie with Baby Groot? Don’t fall for it. It’s a sleight-of-hand gag.
- But Baby Groot wasn’t the only funny thing. Everything was funny. It was almost like watching a Saturday Night Live sketch. Every shtick and cliche they could find to play for a laugh, they did. Thirty seconds of screen time could hardly pass without some attempt at a joke.
But the moment that made me think they “jumped the shark” can be summed up in one word. Pacman. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what I’m talking about. That moment was just one absurdity too much.
Bottom line, this movie felt like a money-making scam. Throw some special effects and a cute Baby Groot at the audience, play up every possible joke you can, and they’ll pay to come by the score…so why waste money on good writing?
I really wanted to like this movie. Instead, I feel like I just witnessed the beginning of the end for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I say that, because I have a horrible feeling that Thor: Ragnarok is going to be exactly the same as this.
I’m still hoping that Spiderman: Homecoming will redeem Marvel for me this summer. Fingers-crossed…
(Now you may commence bashing me.)